Tuesday, 16 June 2015


Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have a problem. They are, for all intents and purposes, victims of their own ridiculous success. Game of Thrones is a worldwide phenomenon, there's no doubt about that. Unfortunately, in a world where social media gives everybody a voice, no matter how twisted, with great success comes much negativity. The more popular the TV show becomes, the more people will try to bring it down. White Walkers with a wi-fi connection. Throw an angry mob of die-hard book fans into the mix and Game of Thrones leaves itself open to more indignation than a Stark wedding banquet. All publicity is good though, right? Be it praise or criticism, everybody is talking about Game of Thrones.

Which leads us to season five. Some people have criticised it for being too slow, but then, following the success of season four was never going to be easy. Foreshadowing was my only issue with this season, there was far too much of it. Season five was at times too predictable, telegraphing every twist with a lingering stare. Having said that, at times it was a thing of beauty too. Unnecessarily brutal, some might say. Not really. What show have you been watching all this time? Whether you're rooting for House Stark, Lannister, Baratheon or Targaryen, not to mention Greyjoy, Tully, Arryn, Tyrell and Martell, Winter has arrived. Which means, chances are, your favourite character won't make it. Here's our pick of Season Five's Greatest Hits. Massive spoiler alert.

12/ Tyene poisons Bronn

Bronn is one of Game of Thrones' best loved characters. In fact, it's hard to believe that not so long ago he was one half of a cheesy - not to mention successful - 90s pop singing duo. In all honesty, the Jaime and Bronn partnership should have been one of this seasons many highlights. Unfortunately, the scenes in Dorne were largely pointless and The Sand Snakes failed to live up to their pre-season hype. Still, we do have this one moment to savour, in which Tyene reveals to Bronn that she poisoned him. She offers him the antidote in return for him declaring her the world's most beautiful woman, which he does. It's rare that the audience at home is in total agreement - for that we can all be grateful.

11/ Mance goes up in smoke

We loved Mance Rayder. His was an imposing presence, one that will be sorely missed. He was a proud man too, and his death was one of season five's least shocking moments. Which just goes to show how merciless the writers have become this year. Not that we ever need reminding of that fact. It's one of the reason why we love the show. At the Wall, Stannis seeks to enlist the wildlings in his war against Roose Bolton. Jon Snow is unable to convince Mance Rayder to accept Stannis's authority and as a result, Stannis has Mance burned alive for treason. It's not the last time we'll see Stannis burn somebody alive this season, but the most impressive part is when Jon shoots Mance with an arrow to kill him quickly and spare his dignity. It's all kinds of beautiful in a crispy kind of way.

10/ Tyrion & Jorah vs. The Stone Men

Tyrion is still our favourite character and every time his life is put in danger we pray for mercy. It's great to have Jorah back too, so whoever decided to put them together deserves a little praise. At sea, Tyrion and Jorah sail through Valyria, and oh boy, is Vayria everything we ever imagined. Not only do we get to see Tyrion's face as he witnesses, not for the last time, Drogon fly overhead, but we also get to see our new favourite duo attacked by a group of stone men. They manage to escape, narrowly, but Jorah is infected with greyscale and decides to keep it a secret. It's a brief but exhilarating scene, one that had us on the edge of our rowing boats. Tyrion survived! The jury's still out on Jorah. 

9/ Arya kills Ser Meryn

Episode ten had plenty of ground to cover and one of the most disappointing story lines of season five featured one of its most cherished characters. I loved the idea behind Arya's 'rebirth' but the execution was painstakingly dull at times. Still, we did have this moment of madness to savour in the final episode. Using a face from the House of Black and White, Arya infiltrates the brothel Ser Meryn is in and kills him after revealing her true identity. Not that he can remember her of course, but the following scene is something viewers at home will never forget. Brutal, bloody and uncompromising, Arya has survived the ordeals of relentless scrubbing and become a born-again psychopath! Just what the show was lacking, I'm sure you'll agree. 

8/ Sam gets jiggy wit it

Sam is the kind of guy everybody cares about, he's also one of the few remaining good guys. Which helps. There are three great moments here, which take place as Jon leaves for Hardhome with Tormund and the rangers. The first is quietly affecting, as Maester Aemon dies a 'natural' death and fans around the world accuse the writers of losing their nerve. Probably. The second is terrifying as Gilly is attacked by two brothers and Sam comes to her rescue. He gets a little help from Ghost of course, and it's great to see Ghost in this episode. I mean, he couldn't save the poor defenceless life of his owner, but when Sam stands a chance of getting lucky he's only too happy to help. Sam, badly beaten, gets to play the part of Jon Snow for once. Gilly tends to his wounds and a little while later, still in pain, the two of them bump uglies. Beautiful. 

7/ Ser Barristan slaughtered - book fans lose it

Oh how they wept! And not for the last time this series. If you haven't read the books you may well wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, in the TV show Ser Barristan was hardly a major player. The internet exploded with outrage on this one, with many readers threatening to boycott the show. They didn't of course. If they had, they would have missed the opportunity to explode in outrage two episodes later. What was all the fuss about? Hizdahr zo Loraq appeals to Daenerys to reopen the fighting pits and the Sons of the Harpy run amok, ambushing an Unsullied patrol inside the citadel. Personality vacuum, Grey Worm, is critically wounded and Ser Barristan is killed unceremoniously. The internet explodes. Fans of the show shrug their shoulders and move on. 

6/ Cersei's Walk of Atonement

Let's face it, she had it coming. But who didn't feel an itsy-bit sorry for Cersei as she broke down in tears? Everybody, you say? Fair enough. We'll move on. Cersei has always put emotion before reason and season five has seen her at both her most manipulative and her most fragile. In the final episode Cersei finally confesses to her sins and is forced to walk naked to the Red Keep as the people of the city shout at her. It's a shocking ordeal for Cersei, and a bittersweet one for the audience as she loses her grip, feet drenched in blood. There is a silver lining though, a light at the end of the tunnel if you will. The tease is finally over as Cersei is received by a new member of the Kingsguard; Ser Robert Strong. The look on her face as he carries her away is priceless. We get the feeling revenge will be very sweet indeed.

5/ Stannis sacrifices Shireen - book fans lose it

Oh dear. On a positive note, at least we forgot about Sansa's rape for a few minutes. This one had been brewing all season, with sweet-as-candy Princess Shireen getting too much screen time for her own good. In the midst of a snowstorm, Stannis' camp is sabotaged when Ramsay's men light fires to destroy his supplies. Melisandre is convinced that they need to make a good sacrifice to reach Winterfell, so Stannis reluctantly sacrifices his daughter Shireen, burning her alive at the stake, while she desperately cries out for her parents. You guessed it, the internet exploded on this one. Stannis was fast becoming a leading contender, despite being a complete and utter b*stard, and we were all quick to forget the evil deeds he had committed in the past. Probably because, at this point, we are clinging onto every redeeming quality we can find. In truth, we've got more chance of seeing Spring. Stannis may have more layers in the books but in the series he was a deluded puppet. Memorable for all the wrong reasons perhaps, but the show's creators won't care about that.

4/ Sansa is raped by Ramsay - book fans lose it

We couldn't compile a Greatest Hits collection without mentioning this, no matter how upsetting it was for some viewers. Sansa hasn't had a lot of luck so far, which is probably why we want her to come good, but everything Joffrey subjected her to pales in comparison to the day she wed Ramsay. That's right folks, another wedding. Surely, by the law of averages, this one has to end well? Now then, if by 'well' you mean viewer outrage, internet explosion and thousands of viewers vowing to boycott the show, then yes, misson accomplished. They didn't of course, because if they had... In Winterfell, Sansa is married to Ramsay at a rather gloomy ceremony, who then rapes her in front of Reek and proves - yet again - what an awful bastard he really is. We don't actually see the rape, the camera focuses on Reek's face as we listen to Sansa's screams, but this is another example of the TV show moving away from the words on the page, and boy were the readers furious. This isn't the first rape we've witnessed on GoT, but it is the first rape of a character we want to prevail, which somehow gave audiences justification for their disillusionment. That we don't get. Still, we will all be eating sausages on the day Sansa gets her revenge. 

3/ John Snow is left out in the cold

This is all getting a bit depressing. Surely it's time to lighten the mood a little? What do you mean, Jon Snow might be dead? Damn it. At Castle Black, a group of brothers, including Alliser and Olly, partake in a mutiny where they each stab Jon, whom they view as a traitor for saving the wildlings. Like Princess Shireen before him, the little gobsh*te Olly was getting way too much screen time for our liking. It was clear that the writing was on the wall for Jon Snow, who seemed to know nothing about the predicament he was in. Of course, rumours suggest that Jon will be brought back to life by Melisandre, and the fact that she returned to Castle Black just in the nick of time certainly adds weight to this theory. Another theory suggests that Ghost will save him, after all, "Ghost" was his final word in the books. I'm not so sure about that one though, not for the show at least. Still, I love Jon Snow and can't imagine he's really gone. He has too big a part to play in this, despite Kit's insistence that he's 'off the show'. Red herring, perhaps? We certainly hope so. Time will tell on this...

2/ Drogon breathes a fire of relief

My jaw didn't hit the floor in season five anywhere near as much as it did in season four, but this moment must rank as one of the greatest accomplishments of the series. In Meereen, the fighting pits reopen and Daenerys is stunned to see Jorah fight for her forgiveness. Although he is successful, his triumph is interrupted by a fierce attack by the Sons of the Harpy, who quickly surround Daenerys and her supporters. Just as all hope seems lost, Drogon arrives in a blaze of glory, and Daenerys mounts her dragon before abandoning her new friends and flying away. Her followers and enemies look on in awe, which is fortunate really because, in truth, not one of them could have survived without her. Still, I still say Drogon should take the Iron Throne for himself, and be honest with me here, who else was more concerned about the dragon than the human characters he dared to save? Either way, this was an astonishing moment in GoT history. We really couldn't ask for more. Just for the record, Drogon's childlike strop in episode ten was hilarious. 

1/ And the dead will rise...

Hardly surprising, right? Without a doubt the best episode of season five and arguably the greatest episode of the show's entire run. It certainly ranks in the top three. Ever since GoT first aired, we have been waiting for this moment and it didn't disappoint. Arriving at Hardhome, Jon and Tormund manage to convince five thousand wildlings to come back with them, showing them the dragonglass and offering them lands south of the Wall. The first half of the episode is all tease, but when Hardhome is attacked by an army of wights, Jon and the other rangers try to defend it. There are so many great moments in this episode - not least the image that greets us above - as the wights attack Hardhome and tension oozes from every frame. Just when you think you've seen it all, a White Walker attacks Jon and is killed by his Valyrian steel-sword, shattering into a million pieces. As Jon, the other rangers and the wildlings sail away, they witness the Night's King reanimating the deceased wildlings who rise from the dead as wights. It's awe-inspiring stuff from start to finish, a punishing reminder of why we fell in love with Game of Thrones. Great stuff.

So what next for the inhabitants of Westeros? Is Jon Snow really dead? Did Brienne strike down Stannis Baratheon? Did Sansa and Theon survive that jump? Will Drogon free the other dragons? Will Drogon sit on the Iron Throne? Will Drogon start to speak in a voice that sounds like Sean Connery? Why has Arya gone blind? Will Jorah really turn to stone? Does anybody know where Bran and Hodor are? Will Cersei get her revenge? Will Tommen grow a pair? Will Ramsay cut said pair off and serve it with a side of fries? What will become of Margaery? Will Tommen ever see her naked again? Will we get to see Missandei naked again? Will Tyrion and Varys rule the city of Meereen together? How pissed will Jaime be now that his daughter is dead? Is Jaime's daughter dead? How long will it be before Ser Robert Strong breaks some heads? Will Bronn ever see The Sand Snakes again? Does anybody really care? All will be revealed in ten months time. Depressing, isn't it? Time to watch season one again...

View Season Four's Greatest Hits here

No comments:

Post a Comment